(Just kidding. But seriously, this will be long. But I have to catalog everything for my memories!)
My little Mary Ella turned 3 years old on July 2nd. I cannot believe she is already 3!
Wellll... actually, if I consider her diva-fied attitude, her "I can do it ALL MYSELF" antics, and her frequent toddler tantrums, I can definitely believe she's 3.
But other than that, I feel like the time has flown by and it's hard to believe three years can go by so fast.
Here she is the day we left the hospital, in all her chubby glory.
And here she is the night before she turned 3. Clearly too cool for school.
The night before her birthday we decided to take her to a Japanese hibachi place.
We didn't know if she'd like it or not, but she LOVED it. She drank the soup, she drank the salad dressing, she gobbled up every grain of rice and every noodle and every single piece of protein that was on her plate. And I'm pretty sure she provided more entertainment than the actual hibachi man. The people at our table were laughing so hard at her expressions and her comments. Since then she's asked every day if we can go eat at "the place where they shoot chicken in your mouth." Ha!
When we got home that night, Lucy presented Mary Ella with an early birthday gift - a Disney princess bicycle helmet.
Then Mary Ella convinced Sam to go ahead and let her open what he'd gotten her too. And Sambo gave in; she was ecstatic to find a pair of Tinker Bell roller skates. And this gift deserves a post of its own. Let's just say that roller skates + a severe lack of coordination = guaranteed broken bone by age 4. I will spare you the video of her first few attempts at skating and the 241 falls that ensued.
The next morning, on her actual birthday, we invited her Daddy's side of the family over for a pancake breakfast. Since it was her birthday, I let her pick out her clothes, her hairdo, and pretty much let her do what she wanted.
She was so happy on her birthday and she even seemed a little more grown up. (*tear*) :(
She received some wonderful gifts from our family; a God's Little Princess devotional book, a 3-DVD set of Shirley Temple movies (right up her alley!), a princess Barbie, some new place mats, a Dora makeup set complete with glittery press-on nails, and a pink scooter from her Daddy. She loved all her gifts!
And here is her signature move.
More pictures from the pancake party:
MeMama and Grandaddy (silly Grandaddy!)
Silly cousins Brooks and Case
And silly Uncle Jason and aunt Keri Lynn
And finally, this past Saturday we celebrated with her "little friends" at her puppy-themed 3rd birthday party. It was so much fun. I think I had just as much fun as the kids did. Here is our doggy table and our decorations.
I love these hanging tissue ball puffs. They are such a cheap and easy craft, and they add so much to a party room! I think I'll hang them in my craft room next - they are too cute to throw away.
Our centerpiece is a tissue puff and a little metal cake stand I bought years ago, topped with a few of her favorite canine companions - Quigley, Woofin and some Littlest Pet Shop pals.
And here's our buffet, where we displayed her invitation, her cakes and cupcakes, some 'dog treats' and a few more puppy pals.
The banner is made out of scrap book paper. And by the way, a book/tablet of scrapbooking paper is my #1 go-to item for planning a party. I use a ton of it! And I use it for everything - invitations, banners, place cards, games, signs, etc.
The dog bowls are from the dollar sections at Target/Walmart. The dog treat dispenser is from Big Lots. Tablecloth, napkins, etc are from Dollar Tree.
The puppy chow cakes were my favorite thing about this party. This is something I found when I googled "Puppy Cakes." It's just a boxed chocolate cake mix, baked in a Pyrex bowl (I used a medium sized bowl, baked for probably 40-50 minutes; I just watched it until it was done.) Top with chocolate icing and a generous supply of cocoa puffs! And let me tell you - this cake was absolutely delicious! Pure doggy heaven!
I also made cupcakes with my leftover cake batter and added paw prints to the top using Junior Mints and chocolate chips. (Cupcake 'stands' are just 2 boxes that I wrapped in fabric.)
When the kiddos arrived, we had a doggy dress up station; each child got to pick a pair of doggy ears and have their face painted. The ears were cut out of felt and glued to cheap plastic headbands. I also made each kiddo a doggy collar out of scrapbook paper and put their name on them. They were all so cute dressed up! Each time someone arrived, all the 'doggies' would get on all fours at the top of the stairs and bark to welcome the new guest.
After everyone arrived we let the kids perform dog tricks. After each child did their trick we rewarded them with a sugar cookie bone. Some of our talented doggy tricks included...
licking our paws...
and panting! Ha!
Here's a group shot of most of our pups.
After tricks and a quick photo, it was time for cake and ice cream.
We sang "Happy Birthday" and Mary Ella blew out her 3 candles. She kept telling everybody, "Hey everybody! I'm 'free' now!" (three)
Then I introduced this puppy friend of mine, and told all the kids that all her spots had someone gotten lost, and that they'd be in charge of finding them. So off they went on a "spot hunt." Chad had hidden them around the house while they were licking their bowls clean.
In a matter of minutes they all came running back, their hands full of black spots. We all took turns glueing on the spots. They seemed to love this part too.
And finally, we moved on to opening gifts. Mary Ella received lots of sweet presents from all her special friends!
Sam enjoyed the party too, despite being a little fussy because of the huge top tooth that has invaded his gums. He hung out with Amanda and Ann Marie.
I tried to get a cute shot of Sam and Mary Ella. She wasn't too thrilled with the idea, as her brother has an undying affection for her curly locks. As you can see, she was in no mood for hair pulling.
Finally, though, we managed to get a few smiles.
The kids went home with doggy bags filled with goodies - dog stickers, a bouncy ball, a sugar cookie bone, their doggy bowls, and their collars and ears.
(Oh, and I made their shirts. Normally my incredibly talented mother would do this, but she had this crazy idea to go and spread the gospel in Antigua the week of our party, so I forgot to place my order before she left the country. Agh! Insert midnight panic attack because I realize my kids won't have anything to wear. Also insert crazy insane mother who knows better than to worry about her kids wardrobe when their are children in the world who don't on A shirt, much less a hand made puppy shirt for a birthday party. I feel stupid for freaking out about this now, but I did go ahead and make them a shirt with the scraps of fabric I had in my sewing bin. Please don't zoom in. Me and my sewing machine got into a knock down drag out fight around 3am the morning of the dog party. We still aren't speaking.)
*Hello Chad, are you reading this? I need a new machine. Ok, thanks.*
It was such a great day and the kids were worn out after the party! I'm so thankful to all our sweet friends and family who came out to make this day special for Mary Ella! And thankful to MeMama for capturing all these sweet moments for me on camera! Thanks so much!
And I have to admit: although it is so much fun to plan these theme parties, it is also crazy and stressful and hectic. Sometimes I ask myself why I don't just order pizza or go to Chuck E. Cheese! And then I'm reminded of why I do it...
That evening, in the middle of dinner, Mary Ella said,
"Mama, I have a question for you." (meaning I have something to tell you.)
"What's your questions?" I asked.
"I had a really great time at my party."
And that's all I needed to hear to know that the late night hours of crazy planning, banner making, burning my fingers with the hot glue gun, baking, decorating and sewing were ALL worth EVERY minute. So here's to many more years of party planning craziness!
Happy 3rd birthday to my precious Mary Ella! I love you!